Are probiotics good for constipation and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? If you are one of the 42 million Americans struggling with persistent constipation, it's time to learn about the many benefits of probiotics for constipation.1 This is especially true when you consider that a recent article published by the Harvard Medical School Health Blog reported that over-the-counter treatments for constipation, including stool softeners and laxatives, aren’t all that helpful.2

If you are tired of the bloating, abdominal discomfort, and gas that come with being blocked up, probiotics may be the answer you have been looking for. Here’s a quick look at what probiotics are and why they play such a crucial role in the health of your digestive system, as well as an explanation of what constipation and IBS are. Additionally, you’ll find information on the best probiotics for constipation, as well as the best probiotics for IBS.

probiotics for constipation

What are the Best Probiotics for Constipation and Bloating?

There are certain probiotics that have been scientifically proven to help relieve constipation, while also alleviating its most common symptoms, including bloating, excess gas, and abdominal cramping.

So, what is the best probiotic for constipation? Here’s a quick look at your top options:

Bifidobacterium lactis: A significant amount of time, money, and research has gone into evaluating how effective B. lactis is at eliminating constipation. In fact, most researchers agree that B. lactis is the best probiotic to use when you are struggling with constipation. In one study involving the elderly, a demographic that is frequently plagued by constipation, patients saw a “significant improvement in the symptoms being experienced.” 6 In a different study, researchers found that the use of B. lactis improves regularity, relieves the chronic symptoms of constipation, increases stool frequency, potentially reduces the need to strain, and puts an end to the sensation of incomplete evacuation.7

B. animalis: Multiple studies have been performed on how B. animalis affects constipation, including one that determined B. animalis causes a substantial decrease in colon transit time after being consumed for 11 straight days.8 When B. animalis lines the walls of the intestines, neither harmful bacteria nor feces can get stuck there. Instead, it continues to pass, without problem, through the digestive system until it is expelled.

B. longum: The effects of B. longum on functional constipation were studied and reported in the World Journal of Gastroenterology.9 Researchers found that when added to a daily diet, whether alone or in addition to other probiotics, B. longum normalized bowel movements and improved the odor, moisture, and physical characteristics of feces. Researchers indicate that this is because it effectively lowers pH levels in the colon, which improves muscle contractions, enhancing regularity and improving consistency.

L. casei: Interestingly, studies show that L. casei can effectively relieve constipation, as well as be used to treat and prevent infectious diarrhea, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, and traveler’s diarrhea. In a study performed at the German Institute of Health Nutrition, the effects of L. casei on patients with chronic constipation were studied over a period of four weeks.10 Starting in the second week, participants reported improvements in the severity of their constipation and the consistency of their stool, which was not as hard. At the end of the study, fewer participants reported moderate to severe constipation. In a separate 2011 study, L. casei’s effect on constipation in Parkinson’s disease patients was observed.11 They, too, experienced a significant improvement in bowel habits, regularity, and stool consistency.

L. acidophilus: A report published by the University of Maryland Medical Center identified L. acidophilus as one of the most commonly used probiotics due to being especially beneficial for intestinal health.12 L. acidophilus promotes the breakdown of food into various substances, including lactic acid, which prevents harmful bacteria from altering the intestinal pH and promotes motility. As a result, it is beneficial for anyone who is trying to put an end to constipation and stop the problem from returning. It works especially well inthe elderly population.


What are the Best Probiotics for IBS?

Multiple probiotics have been shown to help relieve the symptoms of IBS. However, based on the latest research, the following probiotics should be at the top of your list if you suffer from IBS.

B. infantis: Based on a study documented by researchers at the George Washington University School of Medicine, B. infantis is especially effective at alleviating the symptoms often associated with IBS.13 In one study involving 362 women diagnosed with IBS, there was a “significant” decrease in abdominal discomfort/ pain after four weeks, as well as an improvement in bloating, gas, straining, sensation of incomplete evacuation, and bowel habit satisfaction.

B. bifidum/ B. lactis/ L. acidophilus: A study conducted by researchers at The University of Sheffield School of Medicine, Human Nutrition Unit, investigated how the combination of B. bifidum, B. lactis, and L. acidophilus affected participants diagnosed with IBS.14 Prior to beginning the survey, every two weeks during the study, and two weeks after the study was completed, participants would complete a questionnaire (Symptom Severity Score) detailing their symptoms. At the end of eight weeks, participants reported a significantly greater improvement in the Symptom Severity Score of IBS. In particular, there was a marked improvement in satisfaction, days without pain, and quality of life.

L. plantarum: For a period of 12 months, Swedish researchers followed a group of 60 IBS patients who were taking L. plantarum.15 After just four weeks, the group of patients who were receiving the probiotic were reporting decreased flatulence and pain than those in the placebo group. After 12 months, patients who had been receiving L. plantarum maintained better overall GI function than those in the placebo group.

Whether you suffer from constipation, IBS, or both, there are probiotics available to help relieve your discomfort and alleviate your symptoms. Use the information above to help you find which one works best for you.

Taking additional digestive enzymes as part of your diet can also help to speed up the emptying of the stomach contents. Since GERD is potentially very serious and can lead to cancerous changes in digestive tracts, the use of these enzymes is a beneficial tool and can help with acid reflux symptoms. It is best to consult a physician before starting any new health regimen.